Total Trust

Film phase:Completed


The Chinese government’s vision of an all-seeing society is becoming a reality. The documentary Total Trust  follows an official, two human rights lawyers’ families, and a journalist to reveal how a person is gradually integrated into China’s state surveillance system. It depicts what it is like to live under constant surveillance, and the resulting trauma. Through intimate vérité scenes and rich archival footage, the film aims to explore the changes in social behavior and suppression of human rights when technology is in the hands of unchecked power. It also highlights people who risk their lives to stand up against it.

Total Trust was supported through Jialing Zhang’s 2021 Chicken & Egg Award.




Headshot of a woman with long hair and a fringe smiling at the camera

Jialing Zhang (she/her) is an independent Chinese filmmaker based in Massachusetts, US. She produced In the Same Breath (Sundance Film Festival, 2021), co-directed and produced One Child Nation (Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, 2019) and Complicit (Human Rights Watch Film Festival, 2017). In 2019, Jialing was nominated for a Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary, a Producers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures, a Gotham Independent Film Award, and a Peabody Award. Most recently, she won a Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize (US) and a Catholic Media Prize (Germany).

Before becoming a filmmaker, Jialing worked in journalism in Beijing for six years. She holds a master’s degree from NYU’s School of Journalism. Her films have been grounded in thorough investigation and compassionate storytelling with a focus on human rights. Jialing looks forward to further exploring the potential of the medium, which she believes can inform our understanding of the human condition and lead to social change.




The Total Trust producer Knut Jäger looking directly at camera. Black and white portrait.

Knut Jäger (he/him) works as a producer at the German production company, Filmtank GmbH. As a producer, Knut is mainly responsible for the company’s international cinema and TV documentaries, fiction, and virtual reality projects. Before joining Filmtank in 2019, he worked for six years at Heimathafen Film & Media GmbH as a managing director and producer with a focus on international fiction and documentary films. From 2010-2012, he managed the Film Production Company Jäger & Becker Film. Knut holds two MA degrees, respectively in Film & TV production from Hamburg Media School and in Sociology and Visual Communications from the University of Fine Arts Hamburg.